Wed, 26 Jan 2022

Emerald Coast final to feature mirror images Wake, LSU

Field Level Media
27 Nov 2021, 18:19 GMT+10

The basketball season is going extremely well for LSU and Wake Forest.

It's about to become even better for one of them.

The undefeated teams will match up in the final of the Emerald Coast Classic on Saturday night in Niceville, Fla.

The similarities are striking between these teams, with each holding a 6-0 record.

Wake Forest is off to its best start in a season in 13 years. LSU has won its first six games for the first time in nine years.

Both teams needed overtime to advance Friday night after surrendering a last basket in regulation. LSU topped Penn State 68-63 before Wake Forest gave up a 22-point lead in regulation and then recovered to edge Oregon State 80-77.

"We're going to have to win games like that," LSU coach Will Wade said. "That's how it's going to be in the SEC, that's how it's going to be when you play these types of teams."

The two-day tournament setting figures to reveal more about both teams. They each had won five home blowouts prior to showing up in Florida.

"The most important thing is that we did not come out of here with a loss," Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said after Friday's game. "We will learn from it, and we will move on. We have a big game (Saturday) against LSU with a quick turnaround, so we have to be ready to play."

Wade appreciated his team's effort on the boards, where the Tigers had a 42-35 edge, including a 17-8 advantage on the offensive glass.

"Our defense and rebounding bailed us out," he said. "We haven't been able to say that very often, but defensive rebounding bailed us out and especially offensive rebounding with how many shots we missed."

The tournament venue is familiar to Forbes as he has had considerable success in Raider Arena. He coached Northwest Florida State on the junior college level for two seasons, compiling a 62-6 record and twice taking teams to NJCAA national title games. He has never lost a game coaching in the arena.

Wake Forest reserve Khadim Sy became sick during the Oregon State game, so his status was uncertain for the tournament final, Forbes said.

--Field Level Media

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